New approach adopted at New Hanover High to teach freshmen - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

New approach adopted at New Hanover High to teach freshmen

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Students work in teams at New Hanover High. Students work in teams at New Hanover High.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – New Hanover High School is taking a new approach to teaching its freshmen class.

Five weeks into the school year, administrators said the program is working.

It's called the Freshmen Academy. The goal is to make sure all 473 freshmen graduate from the school in four years.

"Freshmen Academy started when a bunch of teachers just got together and realized what we were doing for our students wasn't effective," said Jodi Johnson. She is one of the teachers who helped launch the program this year.

The school reassigned teachers, moving the most-dynamic ones to teach this class. They made the third floor of the school freshmen only. Now, all of the students' core classes – like Algebra and English – are all on the same floor.

Teachers say it's bringing the students and staff together.

"Normally, you would be surrounded by just math teachers," said Johnson. "So, we would end up talking about curriculum and now we are talking about just students. And that team approach supports our students so much better."

Principal Todd Finn said grades are up and discipline issues are down.

Acchus Fields said he is an example of how the Academy is working, "I used to get separated a lot and get in trouble at Williston. "Now that I'm here I don't get in a lot of trouble. I'm maturing."

In the classrooms, students don't sit at individual desks, facing forward. Instead, they're in groups. Students said it leads to better teamwork and understanding of subjects.

"We are sitting at tables instead of at individual desks and I feel like you are able to work with your classmates and that makes it easy to understand cause you are having group discussions," said Annabelle Lewis.

To support the students even more, a guidance councilor and a vice principal have been assigned to the class to help the freshmen meet their goals. Their rooms are located on the third floor too.

If the program works through the year, Principal Finn plans to make changes to the sophomore curriculum – so this year's freshmen continue through with the Academy throughout their time at New Hanover High.

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